The Manager 3.0 in the company of tomorrow

Manager 3.0 – The digitalization of industries involves a reorganization of the world of work, new ways of doing things and producing. In this constantly changing world, the manager 3.0 will have to come to terms with his new role, which will be crucial in the company of tomorrow.

Although it has always undergone transformations, the world of work is today being simultaneously disrupted by several trends: digitalization, generational change, remote working, social awareness by companies. According to Nathalie Lemieux, professor and director of the Department of Organization and Human Resources of the UQAM School of Management, the manager of the next 10 to 15 years will have to accept this role of change agent, since we can no longer separate the operational aspect from the application aspect of change. Every day, these are becoming increasingly linked. It is however easy to “accept” change, but it is also necessary to define it and embody it.

“It’s not very funny, but top management will often think over a change for six months, announce it to mid-level management on Friday and expect that the change will be brought to employees on Monday,” points out the professor. “But it takes more than a weekend for the manager to take ownership of the new message and understand how to embody it to get buy-in from his staff.”

Liberating the company… and the manager

According to Nathalie Lemieux, tomorrow’s manager will have to have an “authentic leadership” and even a “humanist leadership”. “Authentic leadership means being in harmony with one’s own values, and also taking account of the values of one’s employees,” explains the professor. For example, if the manager values efficiency at any price, but for his employees the work-life balance is important, the manager is not “authentic” by respecting values that run counter to those of his employees. So there has to be a trade-off.

This new approach is a testimony to the orientation of collaboration that more and more companies are taking, according to the professor. Large organizations will remain fairly hierarchical, but there will be more latitude within teams. Several companies have experimented with the lean management method, inspired by the car manufacturer Toyota, which gives a lot of responsibilities to its employees, to the point of letting them stop the production line if they consider it necessary. In France, a lot has been made of the “liberated enterprise”, where the general hierarchical structure is still provided by managers but the work teams operate in self-management.

These experiences provide managers with a better idea of what to expect if they make this major culture change in their organization. “Let’s take for example an employee who has been present for 15 years who has always been a performer but whose ideas have always been rejected. If overnight we begin to ask his opinion on many projects, it can be very stressful and anxiety-provoking for him. He has to be supported,” says Nathalie Lemieux.

Relationships within companies are therefore being fully redefined, which affects the “psychological contract” that links the employee to his boss, Nathalie Lemieux believes. Managers will therefore be called on to facilitate these changes, by giving more flexibility and responsibility to their employees, while communicating better with senior management. Rather than focusing on supervision and control, the manager of tomorrow will have to become a leader … regardless of his hierarchical level.

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